The Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators aren’t division rivals. Or even conference rivals. They’re not rivals at all to get right down to it.
But Tuesday night’s game at Verizon Center is the second-regular season meeting between the teams in just over a month and the fourth time they’ve played if counting preseason. In this case, familiarity breeds … well, familiarity.
“You get familiar with the players a little bit more, you get familiar with their systems,” forward Troy Brouwer said. “It doesn’t make it any easier to play against a team like that, but at least you know the style that they’re going to play rather than coming into a game and just being told in the pre-scout by the coaches what they like.”
No, the Caps know exactly who the Predators are. They’re a defensively responsible, well-coached team that can be suffocating when clicking effectively. They feature the top defensive pairing in the NHL in Ryan Suter and Shea Weber and don’t give opponents a lot of room in the defensive zone or the neutral zone.
But the Caps knowing them so well might not be the ideal thing.
“I don’t know because you know how good it is. Maybe it’s a scary thing,” forward Brooks Laich said. “We know what they’re going to do. It’s not like they’re going to sneak up and surprise us.”
Laich and coach Dale Hunter praised the Predators for their work ethic. And with that commitment to hard work comes a tight style of game.
“You know what to expect,” Hunter said. “It’s going to be a grinding game and you’ve got to expect it and play hard in the corners and win your battles.”